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Old 02-11-2005, 06:36 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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What's wrong with my toenails?

Okay, I know, see a doctor. The doctor thing might be a little difficult right now, though, and I'd like to know if this is likely to be something that could wait a while or the dangerous kind of thing I need to have looked at pronto.

I've had my toenails polished for, I dunno, pretty much ages. I usually let them rest a day or two between polishing, but the polish stays on for a long, long time until it grows half-off from my big toes and usually all the way off from the little ones. Sometimes I do them myself at home, and sometimes I go out and get a pedicure. I don't come into contact really with things like communal shower floors. I don't put my feet away wet. I do walk around barefoot in the house and wear sandals in the summer.

A few days ago when I went to put my sock on my left foot, a sizeable chunk of my big toenail on that foot sort of... crumbled. It was polished, recall, so if there was an obvious break in it already I didn't see it (the color was Taupeless Showgirls, if that has any bearing besides the snicker-value). It was something like a scant eigth of the nail - a diagonal "crumble" of that corner, which I then had to remove from the right "side" of the nail - it didn't stick to the flat part really, only the side. Now, the nail on that toe has always been a little odd - the top right bit sort of has an extreme curve to it once it hits the "side" of the nail, it isn't ingrown but it's a little painful to really poke around at, like the nail people do sometimes. No idea if that's related, it's the "crumbling" sort of break that I'm concerned about.

So I yelped and swore and all sorts of things, removed the loose bit, clipped the top so it wouldn't snag on my socks, and removed the polish. Both that toe and my other big toe as well as the tips of a few other toes have these odd little white patches on them. They also seem kind of... porous, maybe? The white areas (some of them look almost like wear patterns that follow the ridges, some are more like spots) are mostly towards the top of the nail (meaning where the polish still was). There's no change in texture between a white bit and an adjacent normal bit. Also no noticeable smell.

I don't think it's fungus - it isn't yellow, it doesn't look like the pictures of fungus I've found. Could it be just weakness from not letting the nail really breathe between polishing? Could it be some dreadful toenail disease? WebMD hasn't been very helpful (except for fungus pictures.) I know nobody can diagnose me over the Internet, but I'd like to hear some opinions on what it could be and how I might know that.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 02-11-2005, 06:40 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Also, I hadn't stubbed my toe or anything for at least a few days before the nail incident. I think I'd definately have noticed a nail injury that went that deep into the toenail. Also no pain or anything in any of them (except now that I'm missing a bit of my toenail.)
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Old 02-11-2005, 06:48 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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You definitely should see a doctor. I work in a derm office and see diseased toenails daily. There are many different types of fungus, mold, and bacterial infections. Not all fungi make your toenails yellow. A dermatologist will probably know right then what it is and start treatment, plus do a culture or two and that can take several weeks to do, so the faster you go the better.
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Old 02-12-2005, 01:57 AM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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Well, I suppose you should probably see a Dr, in case you do have a foot fungus, but I was just going to chime in and say that I get this exactly as you describe as well - basically the constant polish dehydrates the nail and lets it crumble. Assuming it's not affecting the nail bed, I would ignore it.

However, as this is a message board, and I haven't actually seen your toes, you might want to see a Dr. Or you might want to go and get a pedicure and ask your technician - I imagine they would be able to guess about it too.
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Old 02-12-2005, 09:56 AM
lorene lorene is offline
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Of course, I'll say the doctor thing, too.
However, alice said what I was going to say. Most nail polishes contain formaldehyde, which dehydrates your nails. Then the polish remover itself dries them out, too. If it turns out not to be a fungal thing, then I would suggest looking at the ingredients of your polish and choosing ones which don't have any drying ingredients, as well as using a gentle polish remover. I'm not sure how effective things like cuticle oil are in this case, but you may want to find that out as well.
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  #6  
Old 02-12-2005, 11:33 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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See, now I'm torn between taking the advice I ought to take and taking the advice I want to take.

The problem is, I do have insurance but it's temporary and extremely crappy (wouldn't pay for my annual pelvic, for example.) So while I don't mind paying to go to the doctor for something, I don't want to end up paying for something that's nothing at all.

Er, what precisely are the risks of letting your toenail fungus (ew!) go? Will it creep up in the night and strangle you? Will my toe fall off? I'm entirely grossed out about the whole thing - I can't even stand to watch that commercial with the cartoon toenail fungus. Argh!

I use (and my nail salon uses) the good nail polish, though, OPI and such. Are they any better with the drying thing?

And I can't really ask my nail people, we have something of a language barrier and mutually incomprehensible accents. We do okay with "pedicure", "manicure", "don't you want scary acrylic dragon lady nails?" and "no", but beyond that we pretty much stick to smiling and nodding.
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  #7  
Old 02-12-2005, 05:15 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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I'm not saying it is fungus, but if it were there's no danger in not seeing a doctor right away. Some people try Tea Tree Oil or over-the-counter antifungals.
It also could be constant use of polish and remover, as has been suggested.
There are dermatology sites with photos of all kinds of conditions (bewarned, some are way, way TMI) so you could try to find something it resembles.
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  #8  
Old 02-12-2005, 07:24 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I'm kinda afraid to look at pictures, honestly; there's just something about the toenails that squicks me out when it comes to having things wrong with them.

Maybe I'll get good and drunk and then look at diseased toenails.
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  #9  
Old 02-13-2005, 12:02 AM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Maybe I'll get good and drunk and then look at diseased toenails.
And then puke on your own foot. Now THAT'S a good idea....





Can you stand to not wear polish on that toe for a while? If it is the polish causing it, the affected portion will just grow out. If the new toenail is normal,you're good to go.

(FWIW, my dad had toenail fungus for 25 YEARS! They only recently created a medication that doesn't cause impotence so he was able to cure it. I would have thought the funky nails would be enough to prevent dad from getting any, but apparently mom was able to look past them. Ok, now I just grossed myself out. I'm leaving this thread. Blech.)
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